I was asked to preface an article entitled "The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time" on Pitchfork & obliged, mainly as Mark Richardson's week-of-release review of "Playthroughs" back in 2002 was both incredibly insightful, enthusiastic coverage & a much-needed boost of confidence as I segued into making more difficult, long-form, laminar music following the slow, steady decline of enthusiasm surrounding the explicitly anti-functional dance music I was making & performing as Hrvatski*.
The list itself has, even in the day or two immediately following its publication, stirred up a miasma of dissent amongst followers of the genre, with seemingly everyone chiming in about their own ignored nominations, including several valid takedowns offering alternate frameworks for what is - and isn't - ambient music. Despite the hyperbolic title, It's important to see the list for what it actually is: the personal favorites of the 13 Pitchfork contributors that tend to cover this sort of music, ordered by a rank of crossover.
Yes, it writes many of the obvious titles out of the canon, and the focus on more recent work - much of it infuriatingly still in the midst of its respective press & marketing phases - is a bit much. I'm just glad I get to pepper such a thing with references to Joanna Brouk, Tony Conrad, JD Emmanuel, Eliane Radigue, Terry Riley, Damion Romero, & Carter Thomas. The article & preface are here ::
* A bit of trivia: both "Playthroughs" & "Swarm & Dither" were released on the same day; while "Playthroughs" still gets referenced - it occupies a totally respectable number in said list - I don't think "Swarm" even recouped its manufacturing expenses.